Friday, March 1, 2024

Rationalisation of resources or constructive demotion?

Sometime mid-January this past month, rumours started flying thick and fast that Masitaoka Football Club were seeking to part ways with Head Coach Nelson Olebile. This followed a series of underwhelming performances by the team in the elite Botswana Premier League (BPL).

Masitaoka then moved quickly to allay the rumours. At the time, the word from the Majatlhaga camp was that the beleaguered Olebile was still an embodiment of the team’s future. Those in the know even said the coach would assume a new role in the Masitaoka setup.

Fast forward to this past Monday, ‘Manelo,’ as the gaffer is called, has been shuttled from his coaching duties to be the team’s ‘technical manager’. This was relayed by the team chairman Tebogo Ratlhaga.

Speaking in an interview, Ratlhaga reiterated that the team still has a lot of belief in the beleaguered coach. “Our long term goal was to eventually have him overseeing everything in the team,” he explained.

This long-term goal was however fast tracked as Masitaoka struggled. In his stint as head coach, Nelson ‘Manelo’ Olebile oversaw the Masitaoka Football Club’s promotion to the elite Botswana Football League (BFL). The gaffer also led the Molepolole outfit to an Orange FA Cup final.

Things have however not been so good for Masitaoka in the league. That FA cup final apart, the team has struggled in the elite premier league. In fact, the 11th position the team occupies in the Botswana Premier League standings and the 17 points garnered belies the struggles of the team.

From the 17 games played, the team has only managed to win 4 matches, draw 5 and has lost 9. This translates into a point every game for Masitaoka. It was these underwhelming results that led to potential clashes between the coach and the team supporters.

As expected, the team’s ardent glory seeking followers sought results, which the coach and his charges struggled to deliver. Concerned for the coach’s well-being, Ratlhaga said the management decided to take Manelo ‘off the firing line.’

“The team supporters had risen against the coach and we believed his safety was under threat. We had a long discussion with him on the matter and he agreed to it. Manelo is not a coward but we had to take him off the harm’s way and that is what we did,” the Masitaoka chairman said.

As Olebile moves to the position of Technical Manager, Ratlhaga said he will have a lot of things to do. Among others, he will be overseeing Masitaoka’s newly appointed first team Co-Head Coaches Thatayaone Mothuba and Ofentse Mapeu.

“He will still be hands on in the team. As the management, we believe he could have done better. Unfortunately, we have had a players drain as teams recruited from us and took our important players. This stalled our momentum in the league,” he rationalised.

To chat a way forward, the team management met with the players on Tuesday to discuss the state of the club.


Read this week's paper